Hundreds of prison employees and community members attend a legislative hearing in Lincoln on Thursday, June 13, 2024, where the closure and potential relocation of Logan Correctional Center 140 miles northeast to the Chicagoland area was hotly contested. (Hannah Meisel / Capitol News Illinois)

Hundreds gathered at hearings this week to voice concerns over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration’s plans to close and rebuild Logan and Stateville correctional centers. At a Friday meeting, one state lawmaker said, “This is really a concept and not a plan … because a plan has details.”

A crowd dominated by AFSCME members gathered on June 11, 2024, to voice opposition to the closure of Stateville Correctional Center. The union represents most employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections. (Blair Paddock / WTTW News)

Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night to try to sway a vote by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration’s recommendation to close and rebuild Stateville Correctional Center.

Benard McKinley is preparing to begin law school at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. (WTTW News)
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Benard McKinley is preparing to begin law school at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law. He graduated from college while serving 22 years in prison for a crime he committed when he was 16 years old. 

Antonio Lightfoot, deputy director at the nonprofit Workers Center for Racial Justice, speaks at a news conference in the Illinois State Capitol. Advocates wore orange jumpsuits to symbolize the restrictions placed on people who return to society from prison. (Dilpreet Raju / Capitol News Illinois)
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Illinois legislators this week approved a bill to restructure an oversight board in charge of distributing state money to courts that provide prison alternatives, while other criminal justice measures introduced throughout the session remain stalled.

Darrell Fair, an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center who maintains his innocence after 25 years in prison, speaks with “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

In the last 20 years, Illinois has released a spate of inmates who were wrongfully convicted, some after it was determined they were tortured into giving confessions. In fact, the state was faced with so many claims of torture that it created the Torture Relief and Inquiry Commission in 2009.

Stateville Correctional Center. (WTTW News)

Top officials with the Illinois Department of Corrections testified in front of a key panel of state lawmakers. Gov. J.B. Pritzker previously announced a plan to close Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill and Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is pictured in a July 2023 file photo. (Jerry Nowicki / Capitol News Illinois)
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Appointee Jim Montgomery will be responsible for overseeing administrative board operations, including bolstering domestic violence prevention training and “other important equity-based trainings for board members,” according to the governor’s office. 

Former chair of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board Donald Shelton joins “Chicago Tonight: Black Voices” on April 3, 2024. (WTTW News)

“It’s one thing to say that I think the judgment was in error,” Donald Shelton said in an exclusive interview with WTTW News. “It’s another thing to say that there was a lack of concern for a victim of domestic violence.”

Prosecutors said 11-year-old Jayden Perkins was killed by Crosetti Brand last month as the boy tried to protect his pregnant mother from her ex-boyfriend’s knife, a mere day after Brand had been cleared by the Prisoner Review Board for release from Stateville Correctional Center. (Courtesy of Jayden Perkins Family Support Fund)
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The killing of 11-year-old Jayden Perkins is drawing attention to a small state board responsible for deciding when prisoners can be released on parole.

Prison file photo. (WTTW News)

Housing at Stateville Correctional Center is “not suitable for any 21st century correctional center.” Logan Correctional Center is “inefficient, ineffective, and unsuitable for any population.”

Stateville Correctional Center. (WTTW News)
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An independent report identified Illinois’ Stateville and Logan prisons as outdated and in need of costly repairs.

Brian Beals, 57, sits in his sister’s home in January, one month after being released from prison after serving 35 years for a wrongful conviction. Beals was studying at Southern Illinois University when he was arrested for a murder he did not commit in 1988. (Dilpreet Raju / Capitol News Illinois)

A new bill in the General Assembly would seek to remove the roughly $200,000 cap on payments to exonerees that maxes out at the 14-year mark, replacing it with a payout of $50,000 per year, capped at just over $2 million.

(WTTW News)

Cook County Jail provides medications for opioid use disorder to incarcerated people. Where frustration comes from advocates — and local officials — is the limitations of the Illinois Department of Corrections’ medication programming in prisons.

Attendees gather around the drawings of five Prison+Neighborhood Arts/Education Project participants. The organization had a grand opening of its gallery and community space, Walls Turned Sideways, 2717 W. Madison St., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Blair Paddock / WTTW News)
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The West Side gallery is in line with work the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project has been doing for over a decade: connecting teaching artists and scholars to incarcerated students through classes, workshops and lectures.

(WTTW News)

The Illinois Department of Corrections has awarded a new contract to the controversial Wexford Health Sources, the same private health care provider that’s been handling medical care in the state’s prison system since 2011.

Jimmy Soto and his sister, Pilar More, look at family photos. (WTTW News)

In December, Jimmy Soto saw the sunrise over Lake Michigan for the first time in 42 years. He is now discovering a completely different world from the one he left.